Chapter Two

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Head down, I slip silently into geography

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Head down, I slip silently into geography. I'd spent the walk trying to work out how a dead bird had sprung up and flown away from my window. And I'd come to one simple and painfully obvious conclusion - the bird hadn't been dead at all. And as long as I ignored the images of broken bones and bloody feathers replaying every time I closed my eyes, I almost believed it.

I'm only a couple of minutes late, but I feel Mr Jones' stony gaze on me, his pepper-flecked eyebrows twitching.

"Sorry..." I mumble, my cheeks blazing. The shriek of metal dragging against the floor draws everyone's attention as I slide into my seat. My face grows even hotter. Jensen briefly spins around, glancing my way. The gold flecks in his irises catch the light, making his ocean-blue eyes glow. His messy brown curls are aching to have fingers rake through them...

"Did you remember the notes?" a deep voice grumbles from my left. I sigh, my lovely little fantasy shattered. I turn to Henry. He's frowning like he's peering inside my mind and is disapproving of my thoughts.

"Have I ever forgotten before?" I nudge him playfully and he huffs. Mr Jones assigned seats when we all started GCSE Geography. The plus side? I have the perfect view of the back of Jensen's head. The downside? Henry's moods. I pull two lots of notes from my bag with a little more flourish than needed and place a set in front of him.

Henry opens his mouth to speak but thinks better of it, just scowls at his textbook like it's being equally infuriating.

"You've disturbed the class once, Miss Gilbert. Is it really necessary to do it a second time?" A lazy drawl snaps through the classroom.

I bite my lip, trying hard to keep my mouth shut in the face of Mr Jones' sneer. I'm not even sure why we're here. Most classes have ended and we're all focused hard on our exams. Geography is my final one. But Mr Jones seems to think we're all incapable of revising without his inspiring personality, which is tantamount to torture.

"No, sir."

"Good, now... let's see how well you've been studying. At what rate are the polar ice caps melting?"

"Nine per cent over the last decade," I blurt.

The scruff on his chin twitches, and I know he's disappointed I know the answer. He turns away from me in silent protest and continues.

"Now I expected all of you to complete the sample essay question on climate change... what I'm interested in now are potential strategies for mitigation. Any examples?"

"Recent studies show the planet is past the point of saving. So I'm pretty sure any essay will be a short one," Henry grumbles, glancing my way before looking down. Mr Jones makes a sound between a sigh and a growl. He leans on his desk, his eyes boring into Henry.

"Well, thank you for that helpful assessment on the state of the planet, Henry. Does anyone have something useful to add?"

A few hands shoot upward, including mine. Mr Jones scans the room, arms folded across his chest as he leans back against his desk, nodding when he permits someone to speak.

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